Walmart Tests the Blockchain to Tackle Food Safety

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Walmart is once again demonstrating its stance with adopting new technologies by announcing that it is undertaking a trial with the blockchain technology to tackle food safety, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Each week Walmart Stores Inc. serves around 260 million customers; however, this means that monitoring its food and taking action when needed can prove quite a challenge. Not only that, but once a food source has been identified and recalled, this requires time and effort to remove the bad batch from all the stores, not just the one it was located at.

However, with the use of the blockchain, Walmart can simply and easily obtain the information they require such as the supplier, where the food was grown, and who inspected it.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Marshal Cohen, an analyst at researcher NPD Group Inc., said:

If there’s an issue with an outbreak of E.coli, this gives them an ability to immediately find where it came from. That’s the difference between days and minutes.

This, in turn, gives consumers and companies the confidence to know that the food is safe to eat and provides a more efficient system to remove bad batches of food that can drastically cut down on costs and save lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, every year there are over 1,000 foodborne outbreaks investigated by state and local health departments. Around 48 million people are affected yearly while 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die as a result.

Walmart Adopts Blockchain

This, however, is not the first time that Walmart has put blockchain and food together.

In October, the retail giant announced that it was teaming up with multinational technology company, IBM, and Tsinghua University in Beijing to put Chinese pork on the blockchain.

To improve food safety in China, Walmart and IBM are attempting to ensure consumer confidence in the food industry. It is hoped that it will help to prevent food disasters that have been reported in China and to provide a transparent record of where food comes from whether it’s in the U.S. or China.

Earlier this year, the University of Surrey in England found that blockchain technology in the food supply chain could help to reduce food waste. While an analysis suggested that half of U.S. food production is wasted, with global estimated above 30 percent.

If the trial is successful and Walmart adopts blockchain technology to track food across the world, it could end up being the biggest deployments of the technology not just in food safety, but in food waste too.

Food safety certainly needs to be improved on and this trial can certainly pave the way of achieving this.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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